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Fly spray fireball: ‘The explosion was out the gate, next level’


Fireplace warnuings

Aerosol cans and wood burners can be an explosive combination, and a fireball in Martinborough has Wairarapa’s firefighters issuing warnings going into winter.

Martinborough chief fire officer Jake Hawkins said the volunteer brigade attended a property on Thursday evening after an explosion rocked Maple Ln.

He said a fly spray can atop a freestanding fireplace was the culprit.

The resulting fireball shattered glass and shunted windows and frames completely from the house.

It was unlikely to be the only one after Wairarapa’s battle with plagues of cluster flies this season.

“The explosion was out the gate,” Hawkins said.

“Next level.”

He said the occupants had a lucky escape.

They were utterly flabbergasted, but there were no injuries, he said.

“It was a big fireball.

“It blew out three large windows, lifted the iron on the roof, and burnt all the carpet.

“The neighbours came rushing over.”

Fire trucks from Greytown and Featherston attended, including a water tanker from Carterton.

However, the carpet fire had been extinguished on arrival.


Hawkins said officers checked the house’s structural integrity, put the windows back in, and boarded them up.

He said he had attended “a couple” of explosions in his 28 years as a volunteer firefighter, recalling an LPG cylinder that flattened a house in Featherston.

However, he said it was more common for material left atop fires to cause smoke damage.

He said it was a good reminder to people to check their fireplaces going into winter.

Masterton fire officer Tony Gibbs said an exploding aerosol can was uncommon, but toys and candles tended to be placed on freestanding fires.

“Check that, and have the chimney swept by a professional. If you have small children, put up the fire guards.”

Carterton fire officer Bryan Styles said he was yet to come across an explosion as seen in Martinborough but had seen plenty of smoke-logged houses.

“They’ve left the plastic brush and shovel on top, walked away, and when they come back, it’s smoking.”

Styles said the key messages heading into winter were checking the fireplace, getting the chimney swept, and having the electric blankets checked.

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